Review Article

Cryptosporidium species in Australian wildlife and domestic animals


a1 Division of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, 6150

a2 Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, Sydney NSW 2109, Australia


Cryptosporidium is an important enteric parasite that is transmitted via the fecal-oral route, water and food. Humans, wildlife and domestic livestock all potentially contribute Cryptosporidium to surface waters. Most species of Cryptosporidium are morphologically indistinguishable and can only be identified using molecular tools. Over 24 species have been identified and of these, 7 Cryptosporidium species/genotypes are responsible for most human cryptosporidiosis cases. In Australia, relatively few genotyping studies have been conducted. Six Cryptosporidium species (C. hominis, C. parvum, C. meleagridis, C. fayeri, C. andersoni and C. bovis) have been identified in humans in Australia. However, little is known about the contribution of animal hosts to human pathogenic strains of Cryptosporidium in drinking water catchments. In this review, we focus on the available genotyping data for native, feral and domestic animals inhabiting drinking water catchments in Australia to provide an improved understanding of the public health implications and to identify key research gaps.

(Received April 29 2012)

(Revised June 11 2012)

(Accepted June 13 2012)

(Online publication August 20 2012)

Key words

  • Cryptosporidium ;
  • zoonotic;
  • genotype;
  • marsupials;
  • sheep;
  • cattle


c1 Author for correspondence: Division of Health Sciences, School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Perth WA 6150. Tel: +6189360 2482. Fax: +6189310 4144. E-mail: